BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham-Southern men's lacrosse is set to start its 2018 campaign on Saturday, Feb. 10 against Brevard College.
Heading into the season, head coach Casey Kear, now in his fifth year at BSC, is optimistic. The Panthers have the talent and the veteran leadership to compete in the conference.
Four returners will play key roles for BSC in the upcoming year, according to Kear. The first two are juniors Davis Thompson (Mountain Lakes, N.J./Mountain Lakes HS) and Greg Wallace (Fairhope, Ala./Bayside Academy).
"(Thompson and Wallace) are midfielders who do everything for us," Kear said. "They play defense, they play offense and score goals for us, so they'll be important for us."
"Matt is our returning starting goalie – he's phenomenal," Kear said. "And we have a senior captain, Keenan Hudsmith, who takes faceoffs. Hopefully, he can have a good season and get us the ball a lot."
"Those four guys will be really important for us," he added.
"Taylor Carson is a guy who didn't play a lot last year, but he'll be a starter for us this year," he said. "He's really improved a lot from freshman year to sophomore year, and he should make a big impact this year."
"Carter Watkins is a freshman playing midfield and playing offense, and he'll get some playing time this year. We hope to see some things from him," Kear added.
On the schedule for the Panthers are a few key non-conference and Southern Athletic Association matchups.
Outside of the conference in the regular season, the Panthers will play Huntingdon College in a rivalry game coined the "Yellowhammer Classic" where the winner takes possession of a yellow hammer for the year. The game is scheduled for March 7 at Huntingdon.
"Huntingdon is always a big game for us," Kear said. "We've beaten them the last three years and we want to keep the hammer here in Birmingham. We're always excited for that one."
The Panthers will also play another big non-conference game early in the season on Feb. 17 when they travel to Washington College.
"We're going up to Maryland to play Washington College, a program that has won a couple of national championships," Kear said. "That's a really good test to see how we stack up against a national power of a program."
Inside the SAA, the Panthers will also have plenty of competition.
"There's three kind of top dogs in the conference in Sewanee, Berry and Rhodes, and we're right there with them when we play our best," Kear said. "We can play with all of those guys, no doubt, and there's no reason we can't be them."
BSC's first conference game will be against Sewanee on Thursday, March 15.
With his veteran-stacked team in 2018, the goal for the Panthers is to win the Southern Athletic Association championship.
"We're talented, we're veteran-heavy," Kear said, "In all four of my years here we've bowed out in the semifinals and our goal this year is to win in the semifinals and get to the championship game and win it. If we can get there, who knows what can happen, so that's the goal."
Birmingham-Southern kicks off the 2018 campaign on Saturday, Feb. 10 with a 3 p.m. home game against Brevard College.